3/12/07 -- Indeed, nothing is on the small side at this screen printer now taking the plunge into VLF litho production and developing rapidly into an impressive multi-process print and point-of-sale specialist.
B & P began some 25 years ago in Stockport and now the B & P title will symbolise new qualities – big and powerful. Size and space dominates the company’s operation: 78,000ft² (7,246m²) of modern factory buildings on a huge eight-acre (3.2ha) site, massive Thieme VLF screen printing technology, a 20,000ft² (1,860m²) packing and collation hall and now the big litho press that is to shape the B & P future.
Arriving at Cheadle Hulme this Summer is the biggest sheetfed litho press available – a KBA Rapida 205 which prints a giant 1,510 X 2,050mm (59 x 80¾in) sheet. The UV press will come complete with five printing units, an anilox coating tower and a board and plastics package that will allow the press to print a wide range of paper, board, plastics, acetates and metallised substrates from 0.6 to 1.2mm in thickness (24 - 48pt).
The Rapida 205, the centrepiece in a £3.5 million ($6.7m) development is the biggest ever in B & P’s history.
“We need to think big and to stand out from the crowd,” says managing director Les Thomas, “and we needed to buy the biggest sheetfed litho press we possibly could.”
B & P actually shook hands on the deal with KBA over coffee and mince pies the day after Boxing Day. KBA UK executive sales director Mark Nixon comments: “This order from B & P served as a great Christmas present and further emphasises the KBA dominance in the large format sector. KBA is excited to be involved with the next stage of expansion at B&P providing greater productivity, economies of scale and new market opportunities.”
B & P’s impressive new site on the Stanley Green Trading Estate at Cheadle Hulme is only 10 minutes from Manchester International Airport and the move, accomplished earlier this year, is the first time the company has been able to have all its operations under one roof. Previously at nearby Hazelgrove, B & P was split over four different sites.
Today, with a turnover of £7.5 million ($14.5m) and 80 employees treble shifting across most departments, it is customer demand that is driving the investment programme. Customers such as Arcadia Group (better known as Dorothy Perkins, Burtons and Top Shop), The Co-operative Society, and top London ad agency McCann Erickson are calling for top litho quality, faster delivery and top-notch service.
Some eighty per cent of B & P’s work comes from its top seven clients, many of whom are beginning to lower their screen requirements and to think of screen and litho sharing a campaign all co-ordinated and delivered from under one roof.
The new KBA Rapida is the current focus of attention amongst a pretty excited, motivated workforce. New skilled litho operators are being recruited and they, with B & P engineers, will be sent to Germany for KBA specialist training.
But excited as is the B & P management team – managing director Les Thomas, sales director Carl Hardman, sales manager Stefan Bohajczuk, production director Tony Hollywood and buying director Steve Lowe – their feet are firmly on the floor. Les Thomas says: “We need this machine as our passport to a bigger and better future but really it is all about trust and loyalty between us, our staff and our customers. We are problem solvers – we try to take the burden off the backs of our customers. If the customer wants it – we’ll do it !”
Way ahead of the press arriving – it will take 20 giant articulated trucks to complete the delivery from Germany – B & P are carefully educating their customers on the Rapida’s capabilities and the opportunities it opens up. Supporting the KBA press will be a new XL platemaking system from one of the three top suppliers in that sector, a pile turner and a new laminating line.
Stefan Bohajczuk concludes: “ We want to be one of the top two POS suppliers in the UK and we want retail customers to think of us first.”
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